Abstract: Building a Roadmap for the Transition to Adulthood: Voices from Youths with Developmental Disabilities in South Korea (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

4P Building a Roadmap for the Transition to Adulthood: Voices from Youths with Developmental Disabilities in South Korea

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Meekyung Han, PhD, Professor, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Soyon Jung, Ph.D., Professor, Seoul Women's University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Honglan Seo, PhD, Professor, Seoul Women's University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Nayoung Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Daewon University College, Korea, Republic of (South)
Youngmi Bae, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Seoul Women's University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Jiyon Kim, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, National Youth Policy Institute, Korea, Republic of (South)
In the term “transition-age youth” (TAY), “transition” refers to moving from the safeguarded life of a child to the independent and self-reliant life of an adult. While definitions of successful transition vary, essential developmental outcomes transcend cultural and ethnographic boundaries. These outcomes include physical and emotional health, the ability to meet daily needs, engagement in and the ability to remain in school or the workforce, social relationships, and the ability to participate in the community. When developmental disabilities (DD) are present, youths may find the transition to adulthood considerably difficult. Studies worldwide show that TAY with DD experiences multifaceted challenges in various transition domains. In South Korea, these challenges are mainly reported by professionals, parents, and/or guardians, resulting in the voices of TAY with DD being underrepresented. This finding may be partially attributable to the cultural norm of viewing people with DD as objects requiring protection and the perceived nature of DD, which includes limited abilities in communication and cognitive functioning. However, in embracing the notion of inclusivity, it is vital to hear stories directly from TAY with DD, as they are the ones moving into, through, and out of this transition process. This study seeks to bring these relatively unheard voices into the central focus of research and better understand how a roadmap can be built for the transition of TAY with DD into adulthood in the domains of daily life, relationships, and readiness for independence.

Using a combination of purposive and snowball sampling, 16 TAY with DD living with their families in South Korea were invited to participate in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via Zoom, with varying degrees of assistance from mothers or service providers. Upon completion of the first interview, seven participants were invited to the second interview for further exploration, yielding 23 interviews for data analysis. Participants were 17–24 years of age (mean = 20.2), and most were male (n = 11). The type of disability of the participants was intellectual disability (n = 7), autism spectrum disorder (n = 6), or a combination of both (n = 3).

The thematic analysis yielded the following main themes and sub-themes regarding the building blocks of the transition to adulthood: (1) daily living skills (e.g., participation in household chores and difficulty in coping with negative emotions), (2) relationship development and social skills (e.g., positive relationships with parents, limited social relationships, and superficial understanding of dating), (3) self-reliance and readiness for independence (e.g., lack of understanding of independence, inexperience in managing finances, and engagement in meaningful activities), and (4) efforts needed to help them thrive in the future (e.g., more community-based services and inclusivity).

Based on the principle of inclusion (e.g., “people with disabilities are experts”), understanding how TAY with DD experiences the transition to adulthood from their perspective is critical. Participants described their challenges, especially regarding social relationships and processing negative emotion. Our findings suggest ways to improve and expand community-based programs as well as promote a more inclusive society for TAY with DD.